Kyle must choose between the love of his past and the man he could love in the future
For fifteen years, Kyle and Dustin seemed like the perfect couple. That was until Kyle came home to discover Dustin in bed with a yoga instructor half his age and twice his flexibility. Two years and countless therapy hours later, Kyle has almost put the incident behind him. Being nearly forty and single makes a man bitter, but he’s making do.
Yet, when Kyle’s best friend asks him to be her Man of Honor, on her ten-day Caribbean wedding cruise, Kyle finds himself in a most uncomfortable situation. He ends up trapped on a seafaring vessel for ten days with the man who practically destroyed him.
Face to face with Dustin for the first time since the breakup, unresolved feelings float to the surface, and Kyle and Dustin both begin to wonder if their story is as over as it seems.
While navigating unchartered waters with Dustin, Kyle also meets Jax, a sexy Australian who likes to cruise in more ways than one. Kyle is more than happy to let Jax distract him for ten days. Still, when Jax suggests that he might want more than just a few days of fun, Kyle must choose between the love of his past or the man he could love in the future.
Publisher: KDP Publishing
Cover Artist: Rebecca Covers
Genre/s: Contemporary M/M Romance, Comedy
Trope/s: Love triangles, Frenemies
Themes: Moving on, learning to love again
Heat Rating: 3 flames
Length: 140 000 words/430 pages
It is a standalone book.
Buy Links - Available on Kindle Unlimited
Interview with Patrick
Introduce yourself and your writing:
I am turning the big 40 this year—although, with COVID, I feel like we lost a whole year, so I am tempted to stay 39. The Good Ship Lollipop is my second title, but it is my first romantic comedy. I released my first title, The Road Between, last year, which was much more of a family drama with romance weaved through.
I like to write stories with flawed characters. People who are never evil but also never completely good either. I think art should reflect life, and people are messed up. Situations don’t always get resolved perfectly, so many of the conflicts I write about are purposely left unfinished
How long have you been an author?
I’ve been writing all my life, but The Good Ship Lollipop is only my second published book.
Tell us about your new release. What inspired you to write it?
This novel was inspired, in many ways, by my wedding. My husband and I married four years ago, on a Caribbean cruise, very similar to the one my characters find themselves on. So, right away, I knew I wanted that to be my setting. There’s something about being on vacation that makes food taste better, and colours feel more vibrant, and life feels full of endless possibilities. Often people are open to doing things on vacation that they wouldn’t normally do or behaving in ways that they wouldn’t normally behave. So, I immediately thought it would be the perfect place for Kyle to rediscover love and himself.
How did you decide on the title?
I went back and forth for several months on a few different options. I almost called the book Uncharted Waters, but to me, that title felt heavy and serious. I wanted something reflective of the story's content—which, for the most part, is light-hearted and funny. I chose the title The Good Ship Lollipop in homage to Shirley Temple's song from 1934.
What was the hardest part of writing your book?
Knowing when to stop. I tend to get carried away. Having gone on several cruises myself, I know there were at least a dozen other scenarios my characters could have easily found themselves in. I could have honestly kept going for additional hundred or more pages.
Did you learn anything from writing your book? What was it?
Yes, I learned that Australians have quite an extensive list of slang words that North Americans have never heard! While writing The Good Ship Lollipop, I wanted to give Jax an authentic Australian inner dialogue. Half-way through, I realized half-way that was going to be challenging. I was unsure how to write him an authentic Australian voice without the reader having to stop and google what many of the words meant. So, I went back and re-worked the plot so that Jax had been living in the United States for a longer time. This way, many of his thoughts would be Americanized. BUT I still made sure to write Jax’s chapters in Australian spelling, because that is likely something that would not have changed no matter how long he had been away from home. lol
Are there any genres you prefer to write and if so, why?
I love writing comedy. I am naturally a witty and sardonic person, so comedy feels genuine to me. Most of Good Ship Lollipop quickly flew out of my mind and directly onto the page—which is probably why it ended up being so long.
Still, I do not want to pigeonhole myself into any one style of writing. There are so many different genres that enjoy reading, and I would love to try my hand at all of them. My first novel, The Road Between, was a drama, and my next one might be a suspense or a whodunit or even a fantasy. One day I might even love to team up with another author and collaborate on a series of books. I am so new to the world of publishing that right now, the possibilities of what I might write, really feel endless.
Is there a book you wish you had written?
Not really no. I mean, yes, there are books that I have read, and I wish I had thought of the concept, the plot, or the unexpected twist, but I have never wished that wrote the entire story. Every writer has a unique voice. Something as simple as one word can change a whole sentence and the feeling of an entire chapter. For instance, as much as I love The Hunger Games, if I had been the person to write it, it likely would have ended up sounding completely different. Maybe better, maybe worse, but
What book are you reading at the moment?
Starting Over by Rob Borwatzke
Are any of your characters based on you or people you know?
Sometimes I borrow qualities from people I know—most of my characters are not based on any one person. Quite often, they are a combination of several different people. In this book, Kyle is an amalgamation of a few elder gays that I know, and Ruby is very much inspired by my friend’s Lornel and many of my Drag Queen friends. I find inspiration everywhere, but I do not think I would ever write directly about someone I know.
Do you have a favourite character and/or book you've written? Who, what and why?
My Favourite Character is Rachel Morgan from Kim Harrison’s “The Hollows” series of novels. She is a strong, spunky, sarcastic red-haired character that is truly a joy to read. If you want a great series of books that are smart and entertaining, I highly recommend them.
Do you get emails asking why characters didn’t get together and whether you’re going to write more about them?
I did not receive any e-mails, but I periodically check-up on review sights like Goodreads, and see what people have said about my books. With my first release, The Road Between, I read several threads of people wanting a sequel to see where the characters end up—which is something I have thought about doing. It was a very heavy book to write. It dealt with a lot of sensitive subject matter, so I need to be in the right frame of mind to continue it. There were also several people wanting stand-alone spin-off featuring one of the secondary Characters (Oliver). They want him to be gay. I do not know if he is, but it has given me something to consider.
Are you a panster or a plotter?
I am a combination of the two. I tend to map out plot points that I know I want to hit. Everything else is entirely by the seat of my pants. I write and see where it takes me. Sometimes I end up much further away than where I thought I would be and end up like the view from that place better. Other times, I have to backtrack and start over.
Are you a cat person or a dog person? Tell us about your pets.
I love ALL animals, but I especially love my dog, Dax. He is a Shih Tzu/Papillon cross, and he is full of attitude and a little high maintenance, like his owner. He is sixteen now, so my time with him is very precious these days.
If you were stranded on a desert island, what three things (or people) would you want there with you?
My Dog, My Husband, and a pen and endless supply of paper so I could write. Wait that is four things. I guess my husband will have to stay at home!
No, absolutely not!” I nearly choked on a spinach leaf.
“You have to come,” Sapphire insisted. “I want you to be my Man of Honor.”
“A) That’s not a thing. B) The answer is still no.”
“I can’t get married without you.”
“Sure, you can. There’s no law against it. People do it all the time.”
When Sapphire offered to take me to lunch, I should have suspected something treacherous was afoot. Sapphire and I were like sisters. Sisters of different races and one of them with a penis, but sisters, nonetheless. Our relationship was something enormous and incomprehensible to most people. On paper, we had nothing in common. We had completely different backgrounds and cultural experiences that cultivated entirely different perspectives of the world around us. Despite those differences, we had found each other.
As close as we were, the girl had never offered to buy lunch. She seldom volunteered to pay for anything. That should have been warning number one. When she suggested my favorite Italian restaurant, Armando’s, that should have been warning number two. When she volunteered to foot the bill to attend her destination wedding cruise, I should have known to prepare myself for the Armageddon of bad news.
“You spent fifteen years with the man. What are ten more days?” She spoke with her hands. A piece of chicken flung off her fork and onto the table beside us. The senior couple, who were trying to enjoy their eighteen-dollar salads, glared at us like we each had two heads.
“I’m so sorry,” I mouthed to them.
“I can’t believe you would miss your best friend’s wedding over a tiny, little, uncomfortable inconvenience like this.”
“A cockroach infestation is a tiny inconvenience. Gonorrhea is uncomfortable. What you’re asking me to do is far worse.”
“Don’t be dramatic,” Sapphire said, waving her hand. “Dustin is not that bad.”
“Isn’t he?” He was too tall, too fit, too classically pretty, and all too aware of the fact. He was narcissistic and untrustworthy, but he was also charming and exceptionally good at putting on an innocent act. He could flash his white teeth and his dimples and get people to believe anything he wanted. Still, if you looked into his eyes, you could tell he was soulless.
“Why would you want everyone to join you on your honeymoon, anyway?” I shifted focus. “I hate to tell you this, but if you can’t stand to be alone with Justin for ten days, you probably shouldn’t marry him.”
“Very funny,” she said dryly. “I want everyone there because I want my wedding to be an experience. An amazing memory we can all look back on together.”
“I am not spending ten days, on a tiny boat, in the middle of the Caribbean, with him.”
“It’s a cruise ship,” she corrected. “Besides, you won’t be with Dustin. You’ll be with me.”
“Lies!” I wasn’t buying any of it. “I know exactly what will happen. You and Justin will be too busy enjoying your Caribbean honeymoon to spend any time with me. Then I’ll be trapped, in the middle of the ocean, with no one to talk to except Beelzebub’s concubine.”
“He’s not going to be the only other person there, you know. Several other people will be in our group. You can make one of them your wingman. My father loves you. You can hang-out with him.”
“Honey, don’t take this the wrong way. If I’m on an exotic vacation, and the only man who wants to spend time with me is your sixty-five-year-old arthritic father, I might drown myself in a bathtub.”
“Don’t be silly,” Sapphire dismissed. “You’ll be surrounded by water. There’d be no need to draw a bath.”
I did not look amused.
“I can’t believe you’re still so angry. It’s been over a year.” It had been eighteen months since the breakup, and yes, I was still harboring, hurting, and hating.
I hadn’t seen or spoken to Dustin since the incident. As instructed, he had been gone when I returned to the apartment. With Sapphire’s help and some very strategic planning, I had avoided him throughout the entire decoupling process.
I left yellow Post-it Notes on everything he could take and was extremely vindictive about it. He could have the Blu-ray player, but not the discs or the TV. He could take the kitchen table, but not the chairs. I even kept the Keurig, though I permitted him to take his pods. What kind of monster drank decaf anyway? I also instructed Sapphire to guard the jazz record collection with her life. I detested jazz music, and we both knew it. I planned to pawn or destroy the albums later.
The first few weeks after the breakup, Dustin tried tirelessly to communicate with me. He sent me text messages that I didn’t answer and left voice mails that I refused to listen to. Dustin tried everything short of smoke signals. He even sent me an old-fashioned letter, which I didn’t open and burned immediately. I had nothing to say to him and had no desire to hear what he had to say to me. I had never been an incredibly trusting person, and his betrayal had reinforced all those walls that I had been trying, for years, to dismantle.
Being the forgiving person she was, Sapphire tried to convince me to give Dustin a second chance. Still, I refused, steadfast in my determination that he’d had his chance. Since then, she had been careful not to mention him. Even though I knew full well that she saw him regularly. He was her fiancé’s twin brother. She had to remain cordial. I did not and had no intention of ever being so.
“You simply have to come. We’re going to so many beautiful islands: Turks and Caicos, Bonaire, St. Thomas, and Aruba. You’ve always wanted to go to Aruba.”
That was true, but still, “If you put us on a ship together, I promise you, I will throw him overboard.”
She smiled wide, her teeth gleaming white against the contrast of her chocolate skin. “That’s fine! Just promise you’ll make it look like an accident.”
“Duh,” was the most mature response I could muster. “I don’t want to end up someone’s bitch in a Caribbean prison.”
“Don’t you, though?”
Dirty, prison sex would have been the most action I’d seen in a while. Thirty-nine may have been young by hetero standards, but in the queer world, I was practically a spinster. Being classified as an elder gay meant that my dating pool had been reduced to a few categories. First, those men who were so weird or creepy that nobody wanted them, or second, those who were so bitter and jaded by relationships past that dating them was like trying to build a house out of straw. I was a card-carrying member of category two.
Of course, there was always a third group. Younger men. They were excellent in theory, with their zero percent body fat and their permanent erections. However, too often, their perfect bodies and sexual appetites only camouflaged the fact that they lacked any real substance. If brains were dynamite, most of them couldn’t blow their nose. There were always exceptions. Old souls that knew how to converse about more than just Rhi-Rhi’s new album or T-Swizzle’s latest boyfriend. Those younger men wanted more than sugar daddies. Though, I still couldn’t imagine having enough in common with someone who hadn’t even been alive during the original run of Friends.
It wasn’t that I couldn’t get a date. Even close to forty, I was still cute. Not as attractive as I was at twenty, but I wasn’t a hunchback or anything. My deep green eyes matched my red hair, which I kept cropped short to avoid the bozo-clown-realness it would become if left to grow-out. I was tall and still decently shaped, a little thicker in some places than I’d prefer, but that came with age. At least, that’s what I told myself. I had a good understanding of where that put me in the queer hierarchy. Guys would still bang me; they just wouldn’t brag about it anymore.
Admittedly, the realization that I was no longer prime real estate took some getting used to. Before Dustin, I had been a penthouse in Manhattan, but after fifteen years in couple-town, I was shocked to discover I was now a brownstone in Queens. Next stop? Condemned building in Jersey!
That being said, I was optimistic about my life, even if it meant spending it alone.
“The ship is huge,” Sapphire was still talking. “You won’t even really have to see each other. There are also excursions at every port: zip-lining, snorkeling, hikes, surfing. Come on. You can orbit around each other for ten days without committing a violent felony.”
“Great, so I can spend the entire time by myself?”
“There’s going to be thousands of people on this ship. It’s a floating city. If you’re so worried about being by yourself, you could always try making friends.”
“You’ve known me for twenty years. Am I the type of person who makes friends?”
I was about to find out.
This is Patrick Benjamin’s second novel. He was excited to try his hand at something lighter and more humorous than his debut novel (The Road Between). Patrick can most often be found spending quiet evenings at home with his husband, Jarrett and his puppy, Dax. When he’s not writing, Patrick can often be seen performing on stage as his glamorous drag persona Tequila Mockingbird. He also volunteers on the Board of Directors of a non-profit organization that has proudly served the LGBTQ2S+ community for 45 years.